Getting hitched the retro way seems to be the rage among Chinese couples.
They are not doing it in 1960s mini-dresses and psychedelic prints but in elaborate, centuries-old Chinese style.
At least five one-stop shops have opened in recent years to cater to couples who want to observe customary Chinese rituals such as guo da li (gift presentation) and shang tou (hair combing), long considered too archaic and passe by trendy Singaporeans.
Most of their customers are couples in their 20s and 30s, and they do it out of respect for their parents or to reclaim their Chinese heritage.
Accounts manager Jacqueline Sim, 28, did the gift presentation, hair-combing and bed-setting rituals to please her parents when she got married last March.
'Initially, I thought it was a hassle but looking back, I enjoyed the process as I learnt the many dos and don'ts and the subtle differences between the various dialect groups,' she says.
IT sales consultant Maggie Heng, 33, whose tea ceremony is scheduled in September, did the hair- combing and bed-installation rituals because she wanted to embrace her Chinese heritage. 'I don't feel that these are outdated practices. I do it out of respect for the marriage institution.'
And shops are cashing in on the trend by offering wedding paraphernalia required for these rituals.
Ms Joanna Chen, 39, owner of Wedding Cottage at IMM in Jurong, which opened last August, says: 'A lot of people want to do these weddings, but there are not many shops that help couples organise it.'
Business at Fuyuan-The Wedding Shop in New Market Road Food Centre in Chinatown is so good that it expanded into another unit six months after it opened in December last year.
Similar shops that have been on the scene since the 1950s and 1960s also report better sales.
Minah Departmental in Beauty World Centre in Upper Bukit Timah saw its business jump by 10 per cent after the owner launched a website.
Owner of Cheok Keuw Bridal in Jurong West, Mr Pay Chuan Yew, 50, says selling traditional wedding packages has become an increasingly competitive business today. 'Young people are setting up quite a few shops in Chinatown but I have been able to retain my customer base mostly by referral.'
Young couples, however, are not the only ones snapping up the items. Schools such as Rulang Primary and Punggol Primary have bought them to teach their students about Chinese wedding rituals on Racial Harmony Day.
At Rulang Primary, the teachers even acted out the rituals with the items on stage for the students.
'We were reading about Chinese weddings in the textbook but it wasn't touched on in detail, so we decided to do this,' says Chinese teacher Foo Meng Leng, 55.
Additional reporting by Isabel Ong
This story was first published in The Sunday Times on Jul 27, 2008.